Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today released the following statement after the Senate passed the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, legislation to fully fund and make permanent the fund for 9/11 first responders, rescue workers, and survivors:
“Today, Congress finally made good on its promise to never forget the heroic men and women who answered the call when America needed them the most. On September 11th, and the days and months that followed, thousands of first responders, construction workers, and civilians went to Ground Zero to search for survivors and clear the site. They were told the air was safe, but it was not. Nearly two decades later, many of these brave individuals continue to suffer from serious cancers and other long-term illnesses as a result of their service. Passing today’s bill is the least we can do for these heroes and their families.”
In 2011, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was signed into law. The Zadroga Act provided first responders and survivors who faced health complications related to the attacks with medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program and financial compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. In 2015, the Zadroga Act was permanently reauthorized, funding the health program through 2090, but only extending the compensation fund through 2020. In February 2019, the Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund announced that due to a funding shortfall, injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors will receive significant cuts to their expected awards. The legislation passed today would fully fund and extend the Victim Compensation Fund through 2090 to match the life of the health program.
The original 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and its reauthorization were named after James Zadroga, a New York City police detective and hero who passed away from cancer and other health problems linked to his time at Ground Zero. The legislation was recently renamed to also honor NYPD detective Luis Alvarez and FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer, 9/11 heroes who fought selflessly for the legislation and lost their battles to 9/11-related cancers.